3. Why are benthos important to the biological community of estuaries?
Benthos play a critical role in the functioning of estuaries. Benthic species are a diverse group that are a major link in the food chain. Filter feeders in the benthic community pump large amount of water through their bodies. As they filter this water for food, they remove sediments and organic matter, cleaning the water. Organic matter that is not used within the water-column is deposited on the bottom of the ocean floor. It is then remineralized by benthic organisms into nutrients which are given back into the water column. This remineralization of organic matter is an important source of nutrients to the ocean and is critical in maintaining the high primary production rates of estuaries.
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